Tuesday, April 25, 2017


“Under the right circumstances, choosing to spend time alone can be a huge psychological boon”
By: Brent Crane
Level of difficulty: **
·         Bob Kull on the Benefits of Solitude https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGK4876kV4c
·         The Art of Alone: Intentional Solitude | Niqolas Ruud | TEDxWallaWallaUniversity
1.      Read the first two paragraphs of the text. Terzani’s experience in Iberaki was a positive one because …
2.      What subtitle would you give the section you have just read: Silence / Avoiding anxiety/The embrace of seclusion / The stigma of solitude
3.      Read two more paragraphs. Both Merton and Fong feel that better insight can be gained if ………………………………………
4.      What subtitle would you give this section of the text: Solitude has its upsides / solitude and insight /Social settings are toxic/ Confronting the truth.
5.      Read the next paragraph. Moments of personal clarity or epiphanies cannot occur when you are actively engaged in your social life because they require…
6.      Read the two paragraphs detailing the views of Bowker. Which of the following sentences best summarizes his views? Bowker feels that…
·         Solitude is uncomfortable which is why modern society is hyper connected
·         Solitude is unfashionable because society is hyper connected
·         The benefits of solitude are ignored due to current trends
·         A distaste for solitude dominates our modern hyper connected society
7.      What subtitle would you give this section of the text: connectivity versus solitude/ the end of solitude / connectivity, connectivity, connectivity/support for solitude
8.      Read up to the paragraph detailing Kenneth Rubin’s views. We understand from Bowker’s criticism of his students that modern day people cannot manage without their phones / outside stimuli/ music/ running/ solitude.
9.      Why does Bowker believe that universities should “facilitate separating from the group”? Because in the modern world,….
10.  Learning to benefit from a solitary state has an important advantage: it prevents people…
11.  Watch the following video before continuing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRNzNFt6gzg One difference between solitude and hikikomori is the fact that the latter emphasizes….while solitude emphasizes…The second difference is that reintegration into society is / isn’t a problem in the case of hikikomori
12.  Hikikomori is also a form of solitude yet it is harmful because it is not restorative/ it doesn’t meet the preconditions of solitude / it doesn’t lift you out of problems / it is not necessary for a truly healthy mind.
13.  Read the last two paragraphs of the text. Which of the statements below are true and which are false according to this section:
·         Taking time out when one can is beneficial
·         The amount of solitude one needs varies
·         Terzani saw himself as a guru
Write an essay in which you discuss the importance of isolation in the modern world
As someone who relishes isolation, I found this text irresistible. Finally, there is a text that supports views I have held for a long time. This task has been prepared with these people in mind. I hope it will get those over connected people to rethink their attitude too.
1.      It was pursued by choice
2.      The embrace of seclusion
3.      People remove themselves from the social context of their lives
4.      Solitude and insight
5.      Inward focused solitude
6.      The third
7.      Connectivity versus solitude
8.      Outside stimuli
9.      People use others to fill out their identities rather than relying on something internal (something that comes from within)
10.  Feeling lonely when alone
11.  Suffering, rejuvenation, is
12.  It doesn’t meet the preconditions of solitude
13.  T, T, F


“Some possible precipitating factors are already in place. How the West reacts to them will determine the world’s future, says Rachel Nuwer”
By: Rachel Nuwer
Level of Difficulty: ***
·         Why societies collapse | Jared Diamond https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IESYMFtLIis
·         The Roman Style Collapse of Western Civilization https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAkx_6mujoE
·         The Fall of Rome and Modern Parallels https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0zacaIard0
1.       We understand from the text that economic stagnation can be hugely detrimental as: Mark the answer that doesn’t fit
·         The basic tenets of civilized society would be endangered
·         Societies would become more protectionist
·         The wheels would not be spinning
·         Societies would engineer their own demise
2.       According to Motesharrei, the fact that half the world’s population lives on less than 3 dollars a day should set warning bells ringing because it will set off a chain reaction where …
3.       Look back at Motesharrei’s findings concerning ecological strain and economic stratification. What general conclusion can we draw from the explanations?
4.       What does the phrase “those decisions” in the sentence “But we cannot wait forever to make those decisions” refer to?
5.       Looking at the current situation of the world, one would assume that people would be frantic to reduce inequality and preserve the world’s resources but they are not. This is because … Be careful and select the best answer.
6.       Read this short text before continuing:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/december/30/newsid_2547000/2547587.stm Syria is described as the canary of the coal mine because:
·         It will feel the effects of the collapse first
·         It will serve as a warning of dangers to come
·         The country has collapsed into civil war
·         Large numbers of people are unemployed
·         There are pre-existing ethnic tensions
7.       The story of Syria’s collapse is best compared to a stroke of fate /  a chain reaction/ a vicious cycle because … (Use your own words)
8.       Watch the following video before you continue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcWoR9i-GvA Now read the story of the Roman Empire. Which sentence best summarizes the first mistake they made?
9.       What was the consequence of the above mistake?
10.   The reaction to the upheavals made the situation of the Empire worse because….
11.   Look back at the whole paragraph. The Visigoths would not have succeeded in their mission if The Romans…
12.   What is the take home point from the case of The Roman Empire? Tweak the text
13.   What does “this” refer to in the phrase “Tainter suspects this will not always be the case”? Rewrite the sentence to eliminate “this”.
14.   Read the description of the current trends in Europe. The rise of protectionism, the desire to withdraw from the EU and similar policies reflect a desire to …… in order to delay societal collapse.
15.   Read on until the end of the text and answer the following questions.
·         Societal collapse will likely come about in one of two ways in the West. Societies may either….. or….
·         The former will be unavoidable because the growing tendency to cling to their in group identity will provide ……………….
·          Western Societies will lose the democratic values and moral principles they hold dear due mainly to the sharp rise of…
·         Societal collapse is not a foregone conclusion though and can be avoided if people become…
Write an essay in which you discuss whether a Roman style collapse of Western Society is a real danger and what can be done to prevent it. While doing so, refer back to the text and the videos you have watched
This relatively straightforward text covers a very complex topic: the potential collapse of Western Civilization. The text is very well written a draws parallels to the collapse of Rome and modern day Syria . As such there should be plenty of room for discussion before the writing task.
1.       Three
2.       The working population will crash because the portion of wealth allocated to them is not enough followed by collapse of the elites due to the absence of labor.
3.       If the carrying capacity is overshot by too much, collapse becomes inevitable
4.       The decision to reduce factors such as inequality, explosive population growth, the rate at which…
5.       It is more expensive in the short term to solve the problem than it is to just keep acting as usual.
6.       The second (The question cannot be answered if the extra text is not read)
7.       A chain reaction / possible answer one event triggered another
8.       They were overtaxing themselves and running up costs
9.       Civil war and invasions
10.   The army ate up its budget and inflation climbed ever higher
11.   Had stopped at the Mediterranean and expanded to new frontiers by land
12.   Fiscal weakness not war does countries in
13.   Western societies will not always be able to postpone the precipitators of collapse.
14.   Retract people and resources back to their core homelands
15.   Meet a violent end or fade out of existence / the psychological and social prerequisites for mass violence / inequity /more cooperative, more generous and more open to reason

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Social intelligence (SI) is fundamental in social life, in business and in personal life. What does social intelligence entail and what are the benefits? Do your research and find out. Before you do so however, take the test to see where you stand.
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
·         Social intelligence https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixO-6qN8604
Take the test:
·         Social intelligence test: http://socialintelligence.labinthewild.org/mite/  
Reading material to make notes on:
·         What is social intelligence? http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_is_social_intelligence
·         What is social intelligence? http://www.aboutintelligence.co.uk/social-intelligence.html
·         Social intelligence and the biology of leadership https://hbr.org/2008/09/social-intelligence-and-the-biology-of-leadership   
Videos to take notes from:
·         Social Intelligence : A talk by Sandeep Atre, PhD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBH2BzHLYN8
·         The neuroscience of social intelligence: Bill von Hippel at TEDxUQ 2014


Many now claim that emotional intelligence is more important than IQ but what exactly does it mean and can it be developed? What are the advantages of a high EQ? Do your research and find out then write an essay on the topic. Before you go any further though, you need to find out where you stand so take the test:
Take the test:
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
·         Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman Animated Book Summary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6MRsGwyMuQ
Reading material to make notes on:
·         The benefits of emotional intelligence https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/10/29/the-benefits-of-emotional-intelligence/
·         Sorry but emotional intelligence is way more important these days  http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/emotional-intelligence-why-important.html
·          Seven practical ways to improve your emotional intelligence http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/7-practical-ways-improve-your-emotional-intelligence.html?ref=sidebar
·         The Dark Side of Emotional intelligence (Reading task on the blog) https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/good-thinking/201408/the-dark-side-emotional-intelligence  
Videos to watch and take notes from:
·         What is emotional intelligence? Definition and Examples http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-emotional-intelligence-definition-lesson-quiz.html    
·         Emotional Intelligence: Katherine Fortier at TEDxYouth@ISH https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxTuZeIxbgQ
·         "How We've Been Misled by 'Emotional Intelligence'" | Kris Girrell | TEDxNatick

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


“A Norwegian town shrouded in shadow for half the year has found an ingenious way to get a bit of sunlight. But why go to such extreme measures? As Linda Geddes discovers, the Sun has powerful effects on our minds and bodies – and it changes us when it’s absent.”
By: By Linda Geddes
Level of Difficulty: **
·         Polar night in The Arctic - what it's like & what to do https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coIaVH1uNYw
·         The Polar Night https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKidr9WZcx8
·         Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JP7T2q3yeUM
·         Giant mirrors shed sunlight in the winter months on the Norwegian town of Rjukan - hi-tech
1.       Determine which paragraphs constitute the “introduction”. Now answer the question: The strong interest in the sun in Norway may be due to social convention / geographical location / latitude / obsession. Mark the one that doesn’t fit.  
2.       Continue reading: which paragraphs constitute the next section? What general conclusion can be drawn about life in countries such as Norway?
3.       Which paragraphs constitute the next section? Read all about The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine and Phillip Pinel’ Treatise on Insanity. What do these works share with their modern counterparts? They all describe…..
4.       Which paragraphs constitute the next section? Now answer the questions on this section of the text:
·         The reason for SAD is psychological / social/ physical / practical
·         What natural physical response lies at the root of the problem? The positive correlation between…..and……
·         We understand from this section that SAD results from failing to adjust the time correctly /going against the body’ biological functioning / suppressing morning sunshine/ the inability to wake up.
·         The source of the depression resulting from SAD is psychological/ social/ physical / practical in that the higher…………the lower………..
5.       Which paragraphs does the next section of the text include? Now answer the questions on this section:
·         Which of the following phrases could not replace “this” in the sentence “Martin Andersen  didn’t know all of this”: the past experiments with sun light / how to soak up the sun/ past efforts to access sun light/ efforts to bring the sun to the people/ efforts to bring the people to the sun.
·         Why is the reaction of the locals to sun mirrors surprising? Base your answer on what you have read so far?
6.       Where does the next section start and where does it end? Now answer the questions.
·         The reason for the locals’ reaction to the reduction of sunlight seems to be the fact that…
·         What surprising discovery was made in Tromso?
·         Research with Icelanders supports the theory that…
·         Hektoen’s observations seem to indicate that reaction to darkness depends on geography/ perspective/ preparedness/ appreciation.
·         The purpose of the interior decoration of Hektoen’s house is to create …
·         Read the description of life in Tromso in winter. This description seems to prove that a healthy attitude / a social attitude / the right attitude / the wrong attitude can help people get on with their lives in more northerly parts of the world.
7.       Read the last section of the text and answer the questions:
·         What interesting result emerged at the end of the study carried out by Vitterso and Leibowitz?
·         What conclusion can be drawn from the above study?
·         We understand from Rohan’s remarks that people need not be stuck with SAD/ can get treatment for SAD/ avoid hibernation mode/ be more active in winter. Mark the one that doesn’t fit.

Seasonal affective disorder or the winter blues is a very real phenomenon for some people who are perfectly miserable and lethargic during the winter months. This text delves into the underlying reasons for this disorder and corrects some misconceptions.
1.       Paragraphs one and two / Obsession
2.       Martin’s story; paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 / Most people living in countries such as Norway experience a sense of dismay at automne’s dwindling light
3.       The first three paragraphs under the subtitle “Dark Place”/ The Winter Blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder
4.       The paragraph beginning “Why should darker months…” to the next subtitle “Mirror Mirror” / physical / darkness and higher melatonin levels / going against the body’s biological functioning/ physical , the higher the melatonin levels, the lower the level of active thyroid hormone 
5.       The first paragraph under the title “Mirror Mirror to the beginning of the paragraph beginning “Andersen Admits…” /past efforts to access sunlight/They are always trying to access sunlight and feel depressed in the winter
6.       The section begins with the paragraph beginning “Andersen admits…” and ends with words we’d never get anything done. They have got used to the lack of sunlight or they have grown immune to the normal thirst for sunlight. / Despite its high altitude studies found no difference between rates of mental distress in winter and summer/ Resistance to winter depression is genetic / Perspective/ A fairy tale version of winter / the right attitude
7.        Liking winter was associated with greater life satisfaction and being able to undertake challenges that lead to greater personal growth / Adopting a more positive attitude really might help to ward off the winter blues / Can get treatment for SAD


“The program is based on the idea that habit forming behaviors start in childhood”
By: Sara Zaske
Level of Difficulty: **
·         Structured and unstructured play https://prezi.com/01qw4-qyasep/structured-and-unstructured-play/  
·         Social- Emotional development: Experiences and activities (Scroll down for the video)
·         The importance of Unstructured Play in Childhood - Dr Arlene Taylor - Sensory Learning 4 Life https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGdlDjVMIPM
1.        Experts in Germany seem to believe that the fight against addiction starts with games /should start early /takes a long time / has an important goal.
2.        The purpose of having a toy free environment is to instill good values/ to promote world peace/ to prepare children for life/ to shift children’s focus .
3.       The significant research finding that caused toys to be periodically removed from kindergartens is  the fact that…
4.       Watch the video about D.A.R.E.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AibFzt7S81s . The US government should / should not rethink this program because it has been found to have……………The reason is that it is …..
5.       The purpose of both NIDA recommended programs and Red-Ribbon Week is to……However in the former children are cognitively aware of the purpose / aren’t cognitively aware of the purpose but in the latter they are cognitively aware of the purpose / are not cognitively aware of the purpose.
6.       The argument presented in the text as a measure of the effectiveness of a program is the level of………Be careful and tweak the text.
7.       The main criticism leveled at the toy free environment project is the fact children may end up……………Further studies have/ haven’t disproved this claim.  
8.       The purpose of the compromise introduced at the Berlin kita was to: Mark the one(s)that fit
·         Provide children with alternatives to toys
·         Help children think outside the box
·         Encourage children to role play
·         Provide opportunities for field trips
·         Divert children’s attention to other activities
9.       All the games the writer’s son played during the toy free time seems to prove that he was developing his imagination/ he was developing his problem solving skills/ he was becoming more self reliant/ he was becoming less addicted / he was learning to play with everyday objects. Mark the one that doesn’t fit.
Write an essay in which you discuss different kinds of play and where the emphasis should be. Before you do so, check out the links below:

·         Structured vs. Unstructured Play: Is That What Really Matters? http://spaghettiboxkids.com/blog/structured-vs-unstructured-play-is-that-what-really-matters/

·         Make Time For Play: How To Balance Structured And Unstructured Play http://www.cbc.ca/parents/play/view/free-play-in-a-structured-world-how-to-balance-structured-and-unstructured
·         Richard Louv: Structured vs. Unstructured Play https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Y6_-CX0brc


Play is a very important part of childhood. This article focuses mainly on unstructured play and its character building potential. It also argues that it could help prevent future addiction. The writing task involves further research but the topic should generate a healthy debate. My generation was more focused on unstructured play but the young generation has indulged in structured play to the detriment of unstructured play. It should be interesting to hear the different views.
1.       Should start early
2.       To shift children’s focus
3.       Habit forming behavior has its roots in childhood
4.       No positive effects and some deleterious effects/ Information only programs don’t work
5.       Encourage children’s positive behaviors and extinguish negative ones/ are cognitively aware of the purpose / are not cognitively aware of the purpose
6.       Participation
7.       Feeling insecure and not developing a healthy self esteem/ have disproved
8.       1,2 and 5
9.       He was becoming less addicted

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


The halo effect is a well documented social psychology phenomenon. The term was first described by Edward Thorndike. Do your research and find out what exactly it is and write about it.
Thanks are due to Hazel ┼×en for suggesting this task
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
·         Social perception - The Halo Effect | Individuals and Society | MCAT | Khan Academy
·         The mysterious halo effect:  http://psychologyformarketers.com/halo-effect/ 
Reading material to make notes on:
·         Halo Effect: Why "Angels" and "Devils" Walk the Earth http://www.beinghuman.org/article/halo-effect
·         What is the halo effect? https://www.verywell.com/what-is-the-halo-effect-2795906
·         The Halo Effect: When your own mind is a mystery http://www.mgr.org/HaloEffect.html
Videos to watch and take notes from:
·         The Halo Effect, advantages and disadvantages http://study.com/academy/lesson/the-halo-effect-definition-advantages-disadvantages.html
·         Psychology: The Halo Effect - How our Decisions can be Influenced by Radiant Beauty (part 1)
·         Psychology: The Halo Effect - Is the Halo Effect a Reflection of Reality? (part 3)
·         Psychology: The Halo Effect - How our Decisions can be Influenced by Radiant Beauty (part 2)